Category Archives: Food Policy

Economic Impacts of Local Food Systems Webinar

The North American Food Systems Network (NAFSN) is pleased to announce another webinar in the Good Food Talk Series:

Topic: Economic Impacts of Local Food Systems: Measuring Outcomes

Date: Thursday, May  25, 2017

Time: 1:00 pm Eastern Time (10:00 am Pacific Time)

Webinar Presenters

    • Rich Pirog — Director, Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan State University
    • Dawn Thilmany — Professor, Agricultural & Resource Economics, Regional Economic Development Institute, Colorado State University
    • Ariel Kagan — Senior Program Associate, Sustainability Collaborative, Food Institute, George Washington University
    • Kathleen Liang –– Director, Center for Environmental Farming Systems, North Carolina State University
    • Becca Jablonski — Assistant Professor and Extension Economist in Food Systems at Colorado State University


    • Jeffrey K. O’Hara — Agricultural Marketing Specialist, Local Food Research & Development, USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service


Register Here:


In recent years, a considerable effort has been made at improving data collection for local food systems, engaging and developing resources for practitioners to evaluate local food system activity, and to standardize the metrics used in reporting the impacts of local food grant and loan programs.  The presenters will provide an overview of some of these initiatives.  The objective of the webinar is to engage local food funders, researchers, and practitioner in a conversation about the effectiveness of these initiatives; if and how they have impacted local food system activity; whether there are merits to formation of a “community of practice” that would educate, share, review, and critique local food system studies and data collection processes; and if so, to discuss how such a community of practice could be structured.  A number of questions have arisen:

  • How effective are communities, local food practitioners, and researchers at evaluating local food system activity?  What are the strengths and weaknesses?
  • Has the capacity to evaluate local food market activity improved in the previous five years?
  • How strong and mutually reinforcing are the partnerships between community practitioners, researchers, and food system funders (like government agencies) at collectively and satisfactorily evaluating local food projects?
  • Are there opportunities to advance such a community of practice?  How would it look?  What are effective strategies for doing so?

Additional Information

This webinar will bring some high level insights from the Local Foods Impact Conference April 3-4, 2017.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), in partnership with George Washington University, hosted this conference that was designed to explore how to best measure the impacts of local food investments, improve coordination across USDA agencies, and evaluate the extent to which disparate local food investments are complementary and reinforcing. Over 300 people attended with  and another 500 tuning in via livestream for the plenary sessions. FYI, here are videos of the mainstage presentations, photos and slide presentations

As background, the discussion for this webinar  grew from a 2013 meeting to address the state of economic analysis of local and regional food systems convened by Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems and the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food & Environment Program ( Subsequently, in 2014, the USDA AMS convened a team of regional economists and food system specialists to develop a best practice Toolkit for evaluating the economic impacts of local food system activities. This NAFSN Webinar will provide an update on the thinking since that conference and the experience with the Local Food Systems Toolkit. 


Local and Regional Food Webinar – October 7th, 2016

Local and Regional Food Webinar – October 7th, 2016

Local & Regional Foods:  Connecting Regional Efforts

The South has seen significant activity around local and regional foods systems in the recent months.  As a result, a team of Extension and research professionals have come together to create a process for connecting these efforts and growing the work across states and disciplines.  Come see what is planned and learn how you can be involved in the initiative.


October 7, 2016 – 10:30 am  Central / 11:30 am Eastern


Join us here: /


For more information or to view past CRD Webinars, please visit our website:


Webinar Opportunity! Fish and Tackling Sustainable Production

Webinar Opportunity!  Fish and Tackling Sustainable Production

National Good Food Network Webinar

Fish and Tackling Stimulating Sustainable Production

Thursday, Sep 15
3:30 – 4:45pm ET (12:30 – 1:45pm PT)

Free! Register Now

On first blush, seafood seems quite different from our other food. Fishing is the last domain where most of the supply is hunted, rather than cultivated. Furthermore, we consume a much wider variety of aquatic animal species than terrestrial ones.

And yet so many of the lessons sustainable food systems promoters have learned apply to seafood as well – small scale tends to mean lower impact, local and short value chains increase the rewards to careful stewards of resources, and geography matters.

This webinar will examine how large-scale fishing compromises the environment, the return to traditional methods, the value of fishing certifications, and a truly innovative and sustainable approach to seafood farming. It will connect the problems and solutions of “landfood” with our other, often forgotten, source of food- the sea.

Join Niaz Dorry, executive director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, and Bren Smith of Greenwave for this eye-opening webinar.

Part 1 of our Stimulating Sustainable Production Series, exploring innovations and the state of the art of increasing both the supply and demand for sustainable food at the center of our plates.

Reserve your spot – click here


Niaz Dorry



Bren Smith


Local Food Economics Webinar…December 14th

Local Food Economics Webinar…December 14th

In October 2015 the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems convened a
special one-day invitational workshop focused on the economic impacts of
local and regional food systems.  The core of the workshop was based on
a USDA-funded local food economic toolkit project (see link immediately

Because there was so much interest in the workshop, the Center for
Regional Food Systems is working with the (workshop) instructors to
offer a special webinar on Monday, December 14th from 1:30 to 2:30 pm
EST.  This webinar will provide an overview of what was covered in the
October workshop. Instructors will be Dawn Thilmany and Becca Jablonski
from Colorado State University.

To  register for this webinar and receive an e-mail confirmation with
information to join the webinar (and to put on your calendar) please
click the link below

You must register in order to join the webinar. The webinar will be
recorded and the link posted on the Center for Regional Food System’s
website within a few days after the webinar.  If you have questions,
please contact Rich Pirog (

Most Americans Could Eat Locally, Research Shows

Most Americans Could Eat Locally, Research Shows

Farmland mapping project indicates more than 90 percent of U.S. could eat food grown or raised within 100 miles of their homes, helping economy and making agriculture more sustainable.feedable-cities

June 1, 2015
Quick Facts:
A project by UC Merced Professor Elliott Campbell mapped the potential of every American city to obtain food locally.
Research shows unexpectedly large current potential for productive farmland.
Plant- or animal-based diets can change the percentage of people who can eat locally.

Professor Elliott Campbell

Professor Elliott Campbell

MERCED, Calif. — New farmland-mapping research published today shows that up to 90 percent of Americans could be fed entirely by food grown or raised within 100 miles of their homes.Professor Elliott Campbell , with the University of California, Merced, School of Engineering, discusses the possibilities in a study entitled “The Large Potential of Local Croplands to Meet Food Demand in the United States Opens a New Window..” The research results are the cover story of the newest edition of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the flagship journal for the Ecological Society of America, which boasts a membership of 10,000 scientists.

Elliott Campbell’s research is making an important contribution to the national conversation on local food systems,” influential author and UC Berkeley Professor Michael Pollan said. “That conversation has been hobbled by too much wishful thinking and not enough hard data — exactly what Campbell is bringing to the table.”

The popularity of “farm to table” has skyrocketed in the past few years as people become more interested in supporting local farmers and getting fresher food from sources they know and trust. Even large chain restaurants are making efforts to source supplies locally, knowing more customers care where their food comes from.

Farmers markets are popping up in new places, food hubs are ensuring regional distribution, and the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill supports local production — for good reason, too,” Campbell said. “There are profound social and environmental benefits to eating locally.”

Local food potential has declined over time, which Campbell said was an expected finding, given limited land resources and growing populations and suburbanization.

The surprise, though, was how much potential still remains.

Campbell's map shows the percentages of people who could eat locally in all areas of the country.

Campbell’s map shows the percentages of people who could eat locally in all areas of the country.

Most areas of the country could feed between 80 percent and 100 percent of their populations with food grown or raised within 50 miles. Campbell used data from a farmland-mapping project funded by the National Science Foundation and information about land productivity from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.With additional support from the University of California Global Food Initiative, he found there is enough land to assure that eating locally doesn’t have to be a passing fad.

These results are very timely with respect to increasing interests by the public in community-supported agriculture, as well as improving efficiencies in the food-energy-water nexus,” said Bruce Hamilton, program director for NSF, which supports a spectrum of emerging technologies Opens a New Window.that might help alleviate growing agricultural demands.

Campbell and his students looked at the farms within a local radius of every American city, then estimated how many calories those farms could produce. By comparing the potential calorie production to the population of each city, the researchers found the percentage of the population that could be supported entirely by food grown locally.

The researchers found surprising potential in major coastal cities. For example, New York City could feed only 5 percent of its population within 50 miles but as much as 30 percent within 100 miles. The greater Los Angeles area could feed as much as 50 percent within 100 miles.

Diet can also make a difference. For example, local food around San Diego can support 35 percent of the people based on the average U.S. diet, but as much as 51 percent of the population if people switched to plant-based diets.

Campbell’s maps suggest careful planning and policies are needed to protect farmland from suburbanization and encourage local farming for the future.

Click on the image for a larger version.Opens a New Window.

Click on the image for a larger version.

“One important aspect of food sustainability is recycling nutrients, water and energy. For example, if we used compost from cities to fertilize our farms, we would be less reliant on fossil-fuel-based fertilizers,” Campbell said. “But cities must be close to farms so we can ship compost economically and environmentally. Our maps provide the foundation for discovering how recycling could work.”

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Food Policy Council Map Released by Center for a Livable Future

Food Policy Council Map Released by Center for a Livable Future

The Food Policy Networks project at the Center for a Livable Future just released a new map that shows the location of Food Policy Councils (FPCs) in the United States and Canada, and the locations of organizations that convene these councils at a regional level.

Check out the map here:


Mississippi Food Policy Council Mississippi

Dr. DeMarc Hickson, President
My Brother’s Keeper, 710 Avignon Drive Ridgeland, MS 39157




Independent Grassroots Coalition

Top Priorities

Education, Purchasing (Farm to School, Farm to Institution, Cottage Food Industry), Other

Notable Achievements

Through a resolution drafted and championed by the MFPC and its partners, the Mississippi; Legislature designated the first week of October as “Mississippi Farm to School Week.” In response to discussions with the Mississippi Food Policy Council (MFPC), the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) now gives wireless Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) machines to farmers market managers, allowing SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) recipients to purchase any eligible products at farmers markets. The MFPC worked with legislators to draft and pass legislation that created an Interagency Farm to School Council. The Interagency Council will facilitate the procurement and use of locally grown and locally raised agricultural products in school meals in order to improve the quality of food served in schools and to support the state economy. The MFPC worked with legislators to pass legislation exempting cottage food production operations from certain licensing requirements. This new cottage food exemption creates a viable option for in-home production of jellies, jams and other low-risk foods.

Healthy Food Access


As a member of the Mississippi Food Policy Council, I co-chair the Food Access Subcommittee with Alicia Landry of USM.  We work on a variety of topics including underserved popluations and food deserts.

Lack of access is not an issue that can be solved through a single-focused campaign. Rather, there are multiple factors that make lack of access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods a daily struggle for over 800,000 Mississippians including 200,000 children.

Factors contributing to lack of access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods:

  • Too few grocery stores in the state
  • Transportation boundaries
  • High caloric options outweigh healthy options in rural areas

I recently attended a luncheon sponsored by The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi where we discussed healthy food access and the state’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI).

Helping communities secure a grocery or convenient store where there are none is an initiative The Partnership is involved with in collaboration with The American Heart Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Voices for Healthy Kids. This includes the successful passage of a Healthy Food Financing bill that will allow for interested developers, grocers and other retailers to apply for grants and or loans to build, upgrade, remodel or buy equipment to a grocery or convenient stores. For more information on Healthy Food Financing please contact Langston Moore at


green veggies heart

Photo courtesy of